Raptors heavy favourites facing Wizards in first-round playoff series

Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka (9) goes around Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 2, 2018, in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

The Toronto Raptors will be looking to record consecutive straight-up wins over the Washington Wizards for the first time since November 2016 when they open their first-round playoff series on Saturday as 8-point betting favourites on the NBA odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Toronto has gone 3-3 SU over its past six clashes with the Wizards, capped by a 102-95 victory as 3.5-point road favourites in their last meeting on March 2, and is set as a massive -590 favourite on the NBA playoff series prices going into Saturday afternoon’s Wizards versus Raptors betting matchup at Air Canada Centre.

The Raptors would also like to bury the memory of their last playoff series with Washington in 2015, when they were swept in four games, including a pair of decisive losses on home court. The club enters this year’s NBA playoffs amid the highest expectations in franchise history after finishing atop the Eastern Conference standings with a team record 59 wins, and sports short +850 odds to win the NBA championship.

A fast start will be particularly important for the Raptors, who have never claimed victory on home court in the first game of a playoff series, going 0-6 SU all-time including a lopsided 97-83 loss to Milwaukee as a 7.5-point favourite in last year’s playoff opener. Indeed, Toronto has historically been a massive betting disappointment when pegged as a home favourite in the postseason, going 5-13-1 against the spread in 19 overall contests since 2008, and 1-4 ATS when favoured by more than six points in that span.

The Raptors emerged as a force on home court this season, joining the Houston Rockets with a league-leading 34-7 SU home record, including a 17-3 SU mark over their past 20 home games, but covered in just 12 of 31 at home when favoured by more than six points.

The Wizards travel to Toronto with their sights set on a fourth straight first-round series win, but must first shake a late-season swoon that saw them tally just seven SU wins in their past 21 contests.

Washington has particularly struggled on the road down the stretch, scoring an average of just 97.33 points per game during a six-game SU slide, and is a dismal 1-12 SU in its past 13 games when pegged as an underdog by seven or more points.

The Wizards have fared much better at the sportsbooks, covering in three of four when facing an opponent that is favoured by more than seven points, but trail badly on the NBA playoff series prices as +485 longshots to record a second straight playoff series win over Toronto.

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